Stop Staring at Your Phone, Nobody Texted You

Everyone is glued to their phone now, but the question that is begging to be answered is ‘what would we do without them?’

Social media can be isolating at times, causing individuals to feel left out or overlooked.

Saamiya Ahmed

Social media can be isolating at times, causing individuals to feel left out or overlooked.

As people spend more time on their phones than ever, we have inevitably become dependent on them. Some cannot fathom going 24 hours without using their phone, while others do so daily. Personally, I resonate more closely with the former, so I thought it would be an interesting experience going one week without using any social media.

I started the first day by placing time limits of 1 minute per day on all social media apps that I use, including Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. This time limit feature provided by Apple was especially effective at keeping me off the apps because if I opened the app after the time limit was expended, my phone screen would freeze and I would have to turn my phone off and then back on to access any other applications. 

During the school day, I do not typically spend a substantial amount of time on my phone, so it was not all that challenging to go on without it.  The real challenge started when I got home. 

As a chronic procrastinator, it is especially hard for me to get straight home, sit at my desk, and complete all my school work. I use my phone as an excellent escape tool.  Some days I will waste multiple hours just scrolling through various social media accounts. I find that many people also do this, even if there are no pressing matters at hand to deal with.

This phenomenon can quickly become toxic, turning into what many refer to as “doomscrolling” or “doomsurfing.” These terms refer to the practice of continuously spending an exorbitant amount of consuming negative news or media. Many fall victim to these tendencies, myself included. 

Social media is important for many reasons: it allows people to learn more, to become more active in their community, and to share themselves with the world. However, it is also a tool many use to escape. It is not only a tool to evade, let’s say schoolwork, but one to escape reality.

Social media is only what those put out, revealing how they want to be perceived, and is most definitely not an accurate representation of their reality. This concept is especially enticing but can quickly become toxic. 

One of the few students whom I know who actively chooses to abstain from using social media expressed similar sentiments. Lily Zufall ’24 said that, “It’s important to separate social media from reality.”

I found that limiting my social media use allowed me to better separate the two, allowing myself not only more time and to be productive, but also creating a less toxic environment. Keeping my phone away let me finish my work faster and made me feel far more productive.

By the end of that night, I felt a little deprived, so I tried to open some of the apps. However, I then remembered the challenge I had set myself and ended up going to bed half an hour earlier. I’m not going to lie — that first day was filled with countless attempts to access my social media, but it was refreshing to stay off. 

The second day started out much better. I was able to complete extra reading assignments on my commute to school instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or using Snapchat. Sitting on the train, it is easy to find yourself unoccupied, aimlessly trying to find something to pass the time. I felt very efficient from the start of my day and it set me up for a productive day at school. 

A similar pattern continued for the next Wednesday and Thursday, yet the last day of this social media detox was the most insightful. By this point in the social media detox, I thought that I had experienced all of the benefits it could provide, not knowing what was to come.

Typically, my family is very distant, which makes social media one of the few ways we communicate. I think this is similar to many other peoples’ families so I didn’t really notice this issue until recently.

However, without access to my social media, I felt an unusual desire to reach out to some of my more distant family members. I have a half-sister whom I haven’t seen since January 2021, and this detox brought me to the realization that I do wish I was closer to her. My lack of access to Instagram and similar apps sparked this intense urge to reach out and reconnect in person, and what resulted was pleasantly surprising.

Somehow, this superficial social media detox that I started for an article actually had a positive and long-term impact, forming a deeper and more meaningful relationship.

This experience was quite illuminating, and I have some tips for those that also think this may be a productive lifestyle change.

The first is that you should implement it in a way that is sustainable. Like a diet, if it is not sustainable, you will not stick to it, and the positive effects are likely to revert. Instead of going cold-turkey, opt to limit the amount of time to maybe 15 minutes or even half an hour.

The second tip would be to actively take note of the changes you are experiencing. With this, you will be able to deduce what works for you, what helps you, and what may not necessarily be beneficial for your lifestyle.

From my experience, I drew two main lessons. The first and more obvious is that limiting social media usage is very beneficial in aiding in productivity and a good work environment. The second and more unexpected one was that social media doesn’t have to be used for the surface-level, attention-seeking needs basically everyone uses it for, but we can rather, in conjunction, use it to better ourselves and those around us. 

Social media is only what those put out, revealing how they want to be perceived, and is most definitely not an accurate representation of their reality.